Another Ban on Christian Prayer

Nick Provenza at The Seattle Times reports that praying in the name of Jesus Christ is no longer allowed at Longview City Council invocations. The ban was enacted due to a atheist’s complaint.

LONGVIEW (AP) — Ministers should refrain from invoking Jesus Christ in invocations for City Council meetings, Longview Mayor Don Jensen said.

Jensen told the Kelso-Longview Ministerial Association last month that such prayers were not acceptable because they could expose the city to a lawsuit, The Daily News reported Tuesday.

“It’s not my choice to stop this, but I don’t know how we can put our citizens at jeopardy and cost our city and our citizens a lot of money,” said Jensen, who met with the association upon the advice of the city attorney.

If they can’t speak the name Jesus Christ, association ministers will no longer provide the invocation, said President Mark Schmutz, pastor of Northlake Baptist Church. He called the development sad and disappointing.

“They’re asking us not to do what we’re (called) to do,” he said. “This is the one and only true God, and so we’re not trying to be against anybody — we’re just being clear about what we’re for.”

A Christian invocation has started Longview City Council meetings since the 1950s. There was no invocation at last Thursday’s meeting.

The invocation complaint was lodged by Longview resident Dan L. Smith, 69, who describes himself as a “very comfortable atheist.” -> Read the whole thing!

This article demonstrates a clever tactic against Christianity where that attitude is that prayer is fine, but just not Christian prayer. I could imagine this tactic being used in public schools if and when Christian kids pray in Jesus’ name during student initiated prayer times.

Mr. Smith’s complaint is odd though given that he considers himself a comfortable atheist. If he is so comfortable, why does he care who prays to what or to whom? Why not just treat all prayer as another one of those quick but inconvenient formalities included in most business meetings?

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)

A comfortable Christian,


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tagged as , in Christianity,Church Issues,Culture,politics,Prayer,theology

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Theodore A Jones March 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

This article has to be one of the most oxymoronic constructions of “logic” I’ve ever read. “OH! MY God it is such a terrible terrible tragedy that “Christian” prayer has been censored at Longview’s City Council’s invocations”!, and then quote Lk. 6:22-23. Jesus says that it is a great blessing for you and to leap for joy because it is a very great reward. But you have just the opposite stated conclusion than he does. Protest that you know all about his mind set and are following him. Right? Maybe you’ve forgotten that he has instructed his follower to go into a closet to pray to him? I don’t think I would have used Lk. 6;22-23 for a “supportive” quote.

2 Mark March 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

Theodore, not sure I follow, but thanks – I think.

3 Robert I Masters March 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I realize this was from the Seattle Times but it might helpful to note this as Longview, Washington as opposed to Longview , Texas home of
well known Christian R.G Letourneau and his namesake college.
I have seen an article on Texas a time or two in the Seattle Times.

4 Mark March 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Robert, I think you just clarified the location for me. I don’t know all of the cities in those areas. Thanks.

5 Brian Westley March 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Do you think Christians should be able to have official city council prayers?

This isn’t a new battle, the courts keep striking down such prayers:
I’d prefer that the city council follow the constitution.

6 Mark March 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Brian, if prayer is allowed during a city council meeting I think Christians should be allowed to participate. If Christians prayers are excluded I’d rather have all prayer excluded.

I don’t understand how the ruling is Constitutional. As one lawyer from the case from the ADF said, this circuit now has a different position on prayer from the rest of the circuits. I don’t see how allowed prayer which happens to be Christian is the same as making a law that respects the establishment of religion. I do, however, see how such a ruling prohibits the free exercise of religion.


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